The fallout from COVID-19 has Idaho’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate soaring from a record low of 2.5 percent in March to a record high of 11.8 percent in April. With the lockdown phasing out in late May and early June in most of the state, many jobs are being restored. But the Idaho economy, as well as economies around the globe, may not rebound completely for some time.
More than one in four young Idahoans lost jobs
Teens and young adults experienced the most job losses during the first 10 weeks of the crisis. More than one in four (25.6 percent) Idaho workers under 35 years old filed new unemployment insurance claims between March 15 and May 23, while 15.7 of workers 35 years and older filed new claims.
Why did young people encounter especially large unemployment spikes? Youth make up a large proportion of the workforce of the two sectors with the most layoffs – leisure & hospitality and retail – which together accounted for 28 percent of all new unemployment claims. People under age 35 held 60 percent of leisure and hospitality jobs and 43 percent of retail jobs in 2019, according to the Census Bureau’s Quarterly Workforce Indicators. Youth are less likely to hold the managerial and professional jobs that could be done at home. In addition, employers typically lay off less experienced workers, while keeping those with greater seniority.
For Immediate Release: May 6, 2019
Information Contact: Julie Heidemann (208) 634-7102, ext. 3090
The Idaho Department of Labor’s McCall local office is holding a Spring Employment and Apprenticeship Fair from 4-6 p.m. Tuesday, May 14, in the Idaho First Bank Community Room, 475 Deinhard Lane.
For Immediate Release: Nov. 2, 2018
Information Contact: John Russ, (208) 332-3570 ext. 3303 or Georgia Smith, (208) 332-3570 ext. 2102
Idaho Celebrates Apprenticeship Week Nov. 12-18
Idaho apprenticeship programs and apprentices are on the rise across Idaho and the nation. As the number of Idaho businesses sponsoring apprenticeships more than doubled from 2016 to 2018, the number of registered apprentices increased 67 percent.
Idaho Department of Labor Director Melinda Smyser attributes the increase to more Idaho training centers, technical schools, community colleges and institutions delivering industry-specific instruction, technical education and other certified training through Registered Apprenticeships in a variety of ways.
After a year of planning, a new program at Saint Alphonsus that prepares individuals for an environmental services technician (EVS) apprenticeship kicked off in September.
The free EVS Pre-apprenticeship Program at Saint Alphonsus in Boise and Nampa started as a conversation in August 2017 involving Saint Alphonsus, the Idaho Hospital Association and the Idaho Department of Labor.
The hospital was having difficulty filling EVS technician positions. These techs provide a vital function, ensuring hospitals are safe, clean and infection-free. Among other duties, they are trained to safely collect, store and dispose of hazardous materials.
Labor workforce consultant Ofelia Morales and representatives of the College of Western Idaho (CWI) Workforce Development and the Boise office of the International Rescue Committee (IRC), met with Saint Alphonsus’ EVS program staff to discuss the issue.
“Each of the partners has pieces to share,” Morales said. The Department of Labor helps with the cost of the apprenticeship for qualifying individuals through the federal Workforce Innovation & Opportunity Act program. “IRC has case managers, CWI offers the class and Saint Alphonsus offers the jobs,” Morales said. The first pre-apprenticeship class has been funded and managed through the ESL Pathways Program at CWI.
For Immediate Release: Oct. 12, 2018
Information Contact: Jose DeLeon, Idaho Department of Labor, (208) 364-7781 ext. 3620
Job seekers are encouraged to attend an event at the Ford Idaho Center in Nampa Oct. 17, from 3 – 6 p.m., as part of the MADE HERE! EXPO & JOB FAIR in support of National Manufacturing Day and Idaho Manufacturing Month.
At least half of the 75 plus exhibitors representing manufacturing and related industries will be recruiting workers during the event. The expo, organized by Southwest Idaho Manufacturers’ Alliance, also targets parents, teachers and students with interactive displays, information about the modern manufacturing environment and the numerous career opportunities available in the industry.
by Idaho Department of Labor Director Melinda S. Smyser
Not too long ago, St. Mary’s Hospital in Cottonwood found itself in need of a medical lab scientist. After searching eight months for a qualified applicant, hospital officials worked with their local Idaho Department of Labor office to develop a registered apprenticeship program. Today the program is working so well St. Mary’s plans to set up a second apprenticeship for the same skill set.
As I meet with Idaho employers, they tell me they all have one thing in common with St. Mary’s Hospital. They need a pipeline of skilled workers with industry-specific training and hands-on experience.
Registered apprenticeships are a proven strategy for successfully building that pipeline and benefits both businesses and job seekers. Most employers see reduced turnover costs, greater employee retention, increased productivity and an average of $1.05 returned for every dollar they invest in their employees.
Apprentices benefit by on-the-job training and earn while they learn, reducing student debt. They see increased opportunities for promotion and higher wages over the course of their careers. Nationally, nine out of 10 find themselves gainfully employed at an average starting salary of $60,000 per year, and over the course of their careers, earn $300,000 more than their non-apprenticed peers.
As a new resident of eastern Idaho, I am quickly learning there is much more to this traditionally rural area than I anticipated. Each region in Idaho is immensely different from one another, but eastern Idaho has vast diversity within itself. The rural, scenic, untouched beauty of Custer and Clark counties is hard for many people to find within a reasonable distance of their daily lives. In Idaho, these scenic views are just a couple of hours drive away. The Idaho Falls metropolitan area is alive, well and the forefront of economic mobility in the region. Although small compared to metro areas nationally, swift and advanced development of medical facilities, retail shopping and restaurants makes the Idaho Falls metro area an ideal place for young families or for a retirement in paradise. Along with the many economic upsides, there are also challenges for this part of the state.
Eastern Idaho is made up of nine counties; one urban and eight rural. Each county has experienced population growth within the last few years. Teton County, a rural county and close neighbor of Wyoming, has experienced a 34 percent population hike since 2010. After recently visiting the towns of Victor and Driggs, the reasons behind this rapid growth are clear. These quaint towns are infused with rich culture, diverse food and gorgeous views of the Teton Mountains with the kind of outdoor recreational activities most people dream about. For these reasons and more, there is an influx of migrants – retirees, young outdoor enthusiasts and people of all ages – swarming to these towns looking for adventure.
Recent employment and economic projections indicate southeastern Idaho’s economy may finally be heating up.
For much of the last decade, southeastern Idaho’s economy has struggled to grow. Impacted by the previous recession, covered employment in the region increased less than 2 percent from 2004 to 2014. While the region saw impressive growth leading up to the recession, growing 8 percent from 2004 to 2007, employment in the region began to fall as the housing crisis affected the economy. After peaking in 2007, the region lost jobs the following four years. By 2011, covered employment in southeastern Idaho had fallen by more than 5,000 jobs.
Although the region began adding jobs each year since 2011, the tepid growth has done little to make up for the jobs lost during the recession. By the end of 2014, total covered employment was still 3,500 jobs shy of the region’s pre-recession peak, and total job growth over the decade increased less than 2 percent – well below the statewide growth of 10 percent over the same time.
Wage growth in the region has proven more resilient. The average wage in the region has increased from $26,370 in 2004 to $33,687 by 2014, growing by an annual average of 2.5 percent over the decade. This outpaced the statewide annual growth by a tenth of a percent. It should be noted however, that after accounting for inflation the actual buying power for the average wage earner improved slightly more than 2 percent over the decade.
Idaho students training to become auto mechanics at the Dennis Professional Technical School in Boise, Idaho.
The need for automotive service technicians and mechanics in Idaho is expected to grow 14.9 percent from 3,079 workers in 2012 to 3,537 in 2022, according the 2012-2022 Long-Term Occupational Projections issued by the Idaho Department of Labor.
Nationwide, this occupation will grow by 13.6 percent, according to estimates provided by Economic Modeling Systems International, an independent economic forecasting firm.
Multiple factors may contribute to Idaho’s stronger-than-average projected growth in this occupation. One may be related to income. Idaho’s per capita income in 2013 stood at $36,146, nationally the figure was $40,316. The gap in income is likely to cause more Idahoans to drive and buy older vehicles. Older vehicles are generally in need of greater repair and maintenance, so the need for mechanics and automotive technicians increases due to demand.
At the peak of the housing boom in 2007, construction jobs hit 53,250 statewide with an annual payroll just under $2 billion. In 2014, the sector had barely 35,000 jobs that paid $1.37 billion.
Construction has historically been strongest in southwestern Idaho – the state’s population center. Ada and Canyon counties account for almost 40 percent of the state’s population. The remaining eight counties add another 6 percent to bring total population of the region to over 737,000. From 2013 to 2014, the number of construction jobs increased just over 1,100 in the region, where almost half the state’s construction jobs are, while northern Idaho’s five counties – anchored by Kootenai County – posted the second largest increase at nearly 450.